Top Stories: Worldwide

The following are the day's top general news stories:

1. Feinberg Says Half of $20 Billion BP Fund May Be Enough to Cover Claims 2. New York Prepares for First Times Square New Year's Eve Since Bomb Attempt 3. Christie Requests Federal Aid to Help Defray New Jersey Snowstorm Expense 4. New York City Investigating Reports of Work Slowdown During Snow Removal 5. Crosby May Skate by Ovechkin in Career Points at NHL Winter Classic: Chart

1. Feinberg Says Half of $20 Billion BP Fund May Be Enough to Cover Claims

Kenneth Feinberg, administrator of the $20 billion compensation fund for victims of BP Plc´s Gulf of Mexico oil spill, said he anticipates half that amount will be sufficient to cover claims for economic losses. The fund, established by BP after negotiations with the Obama administration, also pays clean-up costs. While Feinberg told Bloomberg Television today that it is too early to project how much will go to individuals and businesses, he estimated $10 billion may be enough to compensate victims. "It remains to be seen, but I would hope that half that money would be more than enough to pay all the claims," Feinberg said. The Gulf Coast Claims Facility has paid about $2.7 billion to more than 170,000 claimants, mostly in temporary, emergency payments. The facility has received more than 468,000 claims, according to its website. Feinberg said many claims lacked sufficient documentation to warrant payment.

2. New York Prepares for First Times Square New Year's Eve Since Bomb Attempt

New York City is deploying thousands of police officers to Times Square for the first New Year´s Eve since an attempted terrorist bombing in May. Hundreds of thousands of revelers descend on Broadway and Seventh Avenue to celebrate the year´s end and watch a lighted ball drop from a flagpole atop One Times Square. The tradition began in 1904 and attracts as many as 1 million people, according to the Times Square Alliance, a business-residents group. The police department will deploy a "counterterrorism overlay" in Times Square, including thousands of uniformed and undercover officers, hand-held and vehicle-mounted radiation detectors, helicopters and elevated observation towers, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said. "Anyone who comes will have to go through magnetometers, perhaps as many as three times," to get to viewing areas, Kelly said in an interview on Bloomberg Television´s "InsideTrack" today.

3. Christie Requests Federal Aid to Help Defray New Jersey Snowstorm Expense

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who was vacationing in Florida as his state dug out from a Dec. 26 blizzard, said he would request federal aid for storm-related expenses. Christie, whose plane from Orlando landed at 5:30 a.m. local time today, signed a letter about six hours later formally requesting a disaster designation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for 13 counties. FEMA officials will be in New Jersey on Jan. 3 to begin assessing the damage, Christie said during a press conference in Freehold, which got about two feet (61 centimeters) of snow. The first-term Republican governor sparked criticism from Democrats for traveling to Walt Disney World with his family as the storm arrived. Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, whose post was created to provide for a backup when the governor is out of state, was in Mexico, leaving Democratic Senate President Stephen Sweeney as acting governor during the blizzard. "The residents of our state chose to create the position of lieutenant governor for this reason," Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, a Mercer County Democrat who sponsored legislation that created the post, said in a Dec. 28 press release. "In the future I would hope the governor and lieutenant governor will respect this and better coordinate their schedules in order to put the safety and welfare of our residents first."

4. New York City Investigating Reports of Work Slowdown During Snow Removal

New York City´s government watchdog agency is investigating reports that some Sanitation Department supervisors told workers not to clear snow during a post- Christmas blizzard that left some roads unplowed for three days. "What we are looking at is whether there was intentional misconduct relating to the snow removal, whether or not there was a slowdown," said Diane Struzzi, a spokeswoman for the Department of Investigation, an independent law-enforcement agency. City Councilman Dan Halloran, a Republican from Whitestone, Queens, said five city employees contacted him to complain that supervisors were telling workers not to plow some roads as payback in a labor dispute with the city over the demotion of 100 Sanitation Department supervisors, about 10 percent of the supervisory force. The New York Post reported Halloran´s comments this week. "Some supervisors, disgruntled they were being demoted for no reason, were looking to take it out on the mayor," Halloran said in an interview. He said he had no proof of an organized slowdown.

5. Crosby May Skate by Ovechkin in Career Points at NHL Winter Classic: Chart

The Pittsburgh Penguins´ Sidney Crosby, whose 50 points in his last 26 games allowed him to pull even with rival Alex Ovechkin in career points, is poised to overtake the Washington Capitals left winger for the first time since 2008 at the National Hockey League´s Winter Classic tomorrow. The CHART OF THE DAY shows Crosby, who on Dec. 29 ended a streak of 25 games with at least a point, and Ovechkin with 571 career points. They´ve traded the lead in career points three times since their NHL careers began in 2005. The two will ring in the new year when both teams meet at Pittsburgh´s Heinz Field for the NHL Winter Classic. The event, which began in 2008, features a regular-season game played outdoors in a nod to the game´s origins. Warmer weather and rain may force the league to delay the game to Jan. 2, the NHL said this week. "You´ve got two superstars that understand what rivalry is all about and they understand the big stage," said Pierre McGuire, a sports commentator who will be one of NBC´s analysts for the game. "There´s so many good dream matchups for the Winter Classic, but this one´s about as good as it gets."

-0- Jan/01/2011 00:35 GMT

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